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Review: 3D Ultra Minigolf Adventures

Golf is meant to be a relaxing, enjoyable game designed so that anyone can play it. However, a full 18 holes can be a long, tedious stretch for those not fit enough for the game, or if you aren’t up to standards, making golf quite the opposite of relaxing and enjoyable. Minigolf, on the other hand, is a short and sweet game designed for all the family to smash a few balls up ramps, through windmills and into the hole at the end. Does Ultra Minigolf live up to the fun and beat going outdoors, or is this a poor conversion of the game we all love to play when visiting a seaside resort?

Boasting up to four players either online or offline, the game immediately means business. There are no tutorials in this game, so as the Live interface boots up and you are asked to select your character, no clue is given as to what the three different control options mean. ‘Three Clicks’, ‘Hold and Release’ and ‘Analog Putt’ all mean very little, so it’s guess work as to which one will be preferable. ‘Three Clicks’ is the control scheme used in older versions of golf games gone by, where the player presses A to get the swingometer in motion, A to stop the swingometer at the required power, then A once more for the accuracy. It feels dated in this day and age with the likes of Tiger Woods’ games offering much more precision through the use of the analog sticks. Thank the Lord then that ‘Analog Putt’ is on offer, which sees the right analog stick being used to gauge the power. ‘Hold and Release’ simply sees the player holding A until the required power is reached, then all that is required is the release of A and voila, the ball is hit. Setting the direction of your shot is easy; simply aim with a handy little arrow coming out of the ball and line up best you can with either the hole or a wall that will lead to the hole. The other customisation options are pretty good for an Arcade game, with the ability to play as one of four characters, and a choice of a few different clothing options and around ten different types of ball.


You can zoom in and out with the trigger buttons

Once online you will delighted to see there is no lag at all, even with four players. The game runs as smoothly as four player local multiplayer, which is a great achievement. Once online, there are two courses available. Both are different, and both certainly hold different challenges along the way. During the course of the round with three other friends, you will visit worlds such as Space, Carnival Towns, Cowboy themed areas and a few more. The setting itself makes little difference to the ball’s physics, so smashing the ball into space won’t make the ball float around like you’d expect. That isn’t really a bad thing either, otherwise it would be impossible to get anywhere. Instead play is carried out across planets. One hole in particular in the Space-themed world is where you play on the outer surface of a planet, and it sees the ball going round and round, so effectively the hole is on a slope the whole time. It’s incredibly difficult by blasting the ball, because it will either leave the putting area or go flying past the hole, neither of which are good news to the score.

There are other fun holes waiting to be discovered and each provide their own unique challenge. Very rarely will you feel as if the hole has already been played. This becomes more apparent with the power-ups available in multiplayer. Even if you have played the holes a few times before, with three other players competing for the victory it simply won’t be the same as last time. The highlights include things such as a glue power-up that, when activated (via the press of the B button), leaves a trail of glue behind your ball. Great for when the ball may have just missed the hole and thus the glue is used to block it for another player. If said opponent does hit the glue, their ball will stop. Infuriating for the opponent who may have been going for a hole in one; bloody hilarious if you set that trap. The fireball power-up is even more hilarious/annoying. If the opponent’s ball hits the flames, they have to replay their ball and gain no progress at all, at the expense of a shot. The game is genuinely fun in multiplayer, if there are three others to play with online. It’s not always easy because it seems not too many people play the game online a lot which is a shame from that perspective.

If the multiplayer experience becomes tiring, then there is the single player tournaments to be excited about. The excitement stops at the thought process though, because the game lets itself down in the single player. Players play on their own, so the power-ups such as the glue and fireball ones are gone, and the game only leaves a couple of others that don’t add very much excitement. All 18 holes have to be played through, firstly on the Travellers Course, since the Explorers Course is locked at the start. However, the course has to played through twice, since tournaments consist of two day’s play, which is a very lonely experience. There is also no opportunity to see the AI in action; their scores simply show up on the scoreboard that appears at the end of every hole. Some of the holes become even more frustrating than they were in the multiplayer. Since there is no-one to laugh with, the game gets increasingly annoying with some of the poorer designed holes in the game. One particularly frustrating hole sees the hole start on one planet, requiring a powerful shot onto another planet to reach the hole. Almost full power is required, however sometimes, due to the angle of the opposite planet, the ball will bounce off and go Out of Bounds. This can go on for a good three shots before eventually sticking, all the while nothing has changed. Certainly not fun when on a good round.

3D Ultra Minigolf Adventures for Xbox 360
All by your lonesome self

There is also little to play for. Once both courses are unlocked, that is it. There is nothing to unlock, nothing to gain from finishing the courses (or even winning the tournament) and nothing to gain by playing on your own again, other than the Achievements. There are little medal tokens to pick up along the way, but they serve no purpose other than to gain another Achievement. The fact that there are only two courses available is somewhat of a let down, because unless online play comes into it, there is nothing to come back for except the possibility of creating your very own courses to challenge yourself.

The Map Editor is actually very good considering it is an Arcade game with limited space. It’s not possible to create some of the more complex holes seen through the single or multiplayer game, but nonetheless there is fun to be had trying out all the different options. Space is limited which to get creative in, but the amount of options for curves, straights, ramps and so on is excellent, meaning the game gives a great opportunity for the more creative players to really explore the possibilities of the Editor.There is even an Achievement for creating and saving a map, which is reason enough to check it out.

If the Map Editor becomes boring, then there is nothing left to try. The game has a hollow single player experience that really won’t be found enjoyable by very many. Playing on your own isn’t always a bad thing, but in a game like Minigolf it almost needs the extra players to keep some emotion in it. The game itself looks OK, nothing special and nothing flashy, and there is at least no lag in the multiplayer part of the game. In fact the mutliplayer is perhaps the highlight of the game and something that doesn’t get boring too quickly. With the use of different power-ups mixing the gameplay with some tactics, there’s a lot of fun to be had.It’s just a shame that there are only two courses in the game, which proves a problem the more time that is spent with it. The Map Editor goes some way in improving this situation, however the created courses can’t be taken online, so no-one really benefits from these, rendering the Editor pretty much redundant. It would have been nice to have seen more courses rather than an Editor, but as it is the game lacks in key areas where it should excel, and chances are the experience from the game will prove more stressful than relaxing, and considerably less enjoyable than the real thing.


One of the more infuriating holes

In the end, the game doesn’t do as much as it should. There needs to be more single player for the game, because Tournament just isn’t enough. If you have no Live and no friends, the single player will tire so quickly. Throw in some multiplayer to liven things up a bit works for a time, but again it will become boring after playing the same holes for the fifteenth time. The Map Editor does little to inspire more play time, which results in the feeling that money has not been well invested here, and as such the game will rot away on many people’s Hard Drive. It’s a shame because the Arcade could have done with a decent golf game, but this certainly isn’t even a candidate. It’s not relaxing, it’s not enjoyable, but it is disappointingly poor.

Final Score: 5 out of 10 - Below Average (How do we rate games?)

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27 comments on 'Review: 3D Ultra Minigolf Adventures'

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Comment by Mike K on 2007-04-23 08:50:55 | Reply

i feel bad for the guy that had to play this game so he could review it.

Comment by George Podge on 2007-04-23 09:19:26 | Reply

blimey what did the reviewer expect for a few bucks - Tiger Woods.

Yay, there’s always someone that has to point out the price when we give an Arcade game a bad review. What do you think the point is of reviewing an Arcade game anyway if obviously in your opinion it doesn’t matter whether they’re crap or not for those few bucks?

Rest assured that the price point was discussed, and we simply couldn’t justify recommending this game for $10 either, while we loved so many other Arcade titles that did show how it has to be done. An Arcade game that sucks before 30 minutes of play like this one doesn’t deserve a good grade, while Tiger Woods would’ve gotten a 1 or 2 if it were just as bad for $60.

Comment by paulwillocks on 2007-04-23 10:16:44 | Reply

Bought it, and hated it. I really should have tried the demo first.

Games on live should be loads of fun in short bursts. This games ticks that box so I think it’s worth the money. It’s not a full priced game so I don’t expect a ‘5hr game marathon’ like you get with some titles. And although the tornaments are played over 2days (playing the same course twice) you can quit the game and any time and re-start from that hole.
Overall, one of the most fun titles currently on XBLA (Worms is the Daddy though) :-)

Comment by Studley on 2007-04-23 10:32:02 | Reply

This is a great game, for the market it’s aimed at. MS is really pushing hard at the “casual gamers” market - they’ve got an entire department developing this sort of thing for the PC.

My girlfriend loves it, and I’m sure loads of other people who don’t normally pick up a 360 controller will be tempted by it. Sure it’s not exactly a system-seller, but I can see a lot of people picking it up as a “party game”.

And indeed, the multiplayer does rock. The only problem is, most of the holes have a hole-in-one shortcut, so playing online often becomes a test of “see who can hit the most shortcuts”. Ironically I’ve played against a lot of people who, if they didn’t hit the shortcut, were absolutely terrible at general putting because they’ve never even tried it.

You’re damn right about that hole being annoying - I checked it by playing the exact same shot with the exact same power twice in a row, and it only got over the loop once :/

Comment by MartyMoose on 2007-04-23 10:33:11 | Reply

Is pinball fx next……… look at this website http://pinballfx.com/ available now. Maybe wed just jumping a little to soon….lmao

Comment by ghostdog81 on 2007-04-23 14:25:32 | Reply

This golf game really sucks.Its way off.

I am glad xboxic tells it like it is… If I wanted to read gushing articles written by a bunch of lackies who swim in advertising money direct from publishers, I’d go read IGN or one of it’s “pretend” fanboy sites like teamxbox.

F that. In the A!

Comment by wolvie75 on 2007-04-23 16:12:21 | Reply

I actually liked this game.. played the demo a few times and ended up buying it.

Comment by Phocas on 2007-04-23 20:08:38 | Reply

me too… A couple of my friends bought it and we had a blast playing on live and in person.. Nice “party” game..

It’s not award winning, but I do like mini golf, had a bit of fun playing multiplayer and the map editor made it worth $10 to me. Granted, it’s not an 8/10, but the potential for DLC and the map editor extend the fun… at least for me.

Comment by Wet Vein on 2007-04-23 22:26:25 | Reply

Guess I’m in the minority…. but I liked it. I’m not a casual gamer by any means…. but I do enjoy playing a game where you can sit back, take it easy and smoke a fatty while you play. I’d give t a 7.5 Different strokes for different folks I guess.
I like my mini golf games like-I-like my women…. little bit tricky, sorta easy, some curves here and there and a hole big enough for my balls. And sometimes my friends balls.

Single player is sub par but the games take off in multi player, can be loads of fun with friends. I give the single player a 6/10 and the muti an 8/10. Maybe some of you need to stop playing with your self? Try playing with your Live drinking buddies.

Comment by quintessential on 2007-04-23 23:31:13 | Reply

i hope someone hasnt mentioned this already, but the rating of “five of ten” at the fiftieth percentile is labeled “below average” when average would be, in actuality, a rating of five or half…

Erm yeah and we labeled 6 ‘average’, which is that 5.5 rounded up. Your point? ;)

I bought it 4mins after playing the trial. I wish I hadn’t now. It’s a fun game but theres something not quite right about it. I’d give it a 6/10 myself.

Comment by ManoDestra on 2007-04-25 00:30:40 | Reply

It’s a very easy game, but it really excels when it comes to multiplayer. Getting four people online blowing up each other’s golf balls with bomb or fire pickups is just GREAT fun. Got all the achievements within 2 days so not much incentive to play it any more other than the occasional bit of fun with some friends in multiplayer. I’d have given it 7 out of 10 simply because it’s a lot of fun and it’s a very different game from anything else which is on the Arcade at the moment. It’s more games like this that we NEED. Not cruddy 1980’s ports. Gyruss? What’s next? Space Invaders? I’d like to see more Popcap games too. Alchemy please!!!

Comment by ManoDestra on 2007-04-25 00:35:02 | Reply

I forgot to add that there is a mistake in the review. The holes that you create in multiplayer CAN be taken online. So there’s a lot more longevity to the game than the reviewer actually realised. By allowing you to create holes and play them with your friends online, this game is DEFINITELY worth the asking price.

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